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President Carter has plenty of work left to do

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Former President Jimmy Carter may be 95 years old, but he’s still got plenty of work left to do.

Habitat for Humanity has been a huge part of his life, participating in builds over three decades with his Rosalynn.

It was 1984 in New York City when President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn picked up a hammer for Habitat for Humanity for the first time, and they haven’t looked back.

Carter models every day he wakes up that it is not only possible, but effective to lead with your head and your heart, something he also did while in the White House.

“I use my head a lot more than I do my heart. I use them both,” Carter said. “Sometimes I had to use my heart when I was negotiating between two enemies. Quite often you had to have your heart set to accommodate both of them. It was a very challenging job that I enjoyed very much.”

From Charlotte to Eastern Kentucky, Mexico to the Phillipines, the Carters quickly became the face of the international organization, helping working men and women around the world own a home of their own.

“I prayed three or four times each day on my way to the Oval Office, and gave thanks on the way back in the White House,” said Carter. “Faith was a very important part of my life then, and I prayed that I would do the right thing for the American people, that I would be honest and true, and never tell a lie in the White House, and I encouraged my helpers to do the same thing.”

The Carters, both in their 90s, are still working hard despite their ages.

“There’s only two alternatives to living until your old. One of them I won’t talk about and the other is I was lucky and married the right person to take care of me,” said Carter, who turned 95 on Oct. 1.

His wife Rosalynn Carter is 92.

Their voices remain strong as they champion their cause. Their marriage is even stronger.

Together they’ve inspired millions, building communities everywhere they go.

“In the last five years I’ve taken up painting,” said President Carter. “I give a painting to the Carter Center every year, and they auction it off, and it brings a fantastic price.”

More than 100,000 volunteers in 14 countries have flocked to the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Projects.

This year, for one week, hundreds more gather in Music City to the Park Preserve neighborhood to work on 21 new homes.

Live music serenades the work site every day.

President Carter is a life-long music fan.

Video shows President Carter with Dizzy Gillespie, Willie Nelson and many others through the years.

“Recently we’ve been infatuated with country music because of the very good Ken Burns series,” said President Carter. “We watched all 10 of those including the last ones with Garth Brooks and Trisha [Yearwood] in them. We have been fascinated with it. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen on television. I like all of Ken Burns stuff, but this is the best, I think. It kind of gave us a preview of what to expect when we got to Nashville.”

Carter still have dreams he wants to accomplish.

“I want to continue to raise a family. We have about 45 or 46 in our family now. We have a lot of great-grandchildren born every year, and that’s kind of hard to stay up with,” said President Carter.

It’s one more reason why Habitat for Humanity and all of Tennessee are thrilled to welcome the Carters, hoping their week in Nashville leaves a long song in their hearts.

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